Insure Your Stuff — It’s a Bargain

For over a year, I’ve been thinking about insuring some of my expensive photography and computer equipment. I’m getting ready for a three-week trip to the Middle East on Sunday, and since I’m taking some of that pricey camera gear, I finally decided to check this off my to-do list. Insuring this stuff turns out to be fairly simple and surprisingly inexpensive.

The hard part was the inventory. I created a spreadsheet with all the descriptions, serial numbers and purchase prices. Although it wasn’t necessarily for some items, I tracked down all the invoices. (Most of it was purchased from, who allows you to re-print the invoices for anything you have ever bought from them.) I put it all into a PDF and sent it to my State Farm Insurance agent, where their underwriter picked through it, item-by-item.

Bottom line: This is a terrific deal. For a cost of only $1.25/year per $100 of value, they will insure against any loss or damage with a zero deductible. I’ve got almost everything covered: not just cameras and lenses, but expensive filters, accessories and even my backpack. I can update the inventory at any time. I’ll eventually add other items like my wife’s jewelry, artwork, etc. I haven’t insured my computer gear yet, but my agent says that will cost even less. The underwriting is detailed to the extent that they won’t insure iPads, for example. The losses and risks are just too high. But they had no problem with any of the photo stuff.

The only other restriction is that this is for amateur photographers only. A pro will have to pay a higher rate. (Probably a completely different policy.) I haven’t seen the details, but I think this is an add-on to my homeowner’s insurance.

So if you’ve been putting this off, particularly if you’re planning a trip to a far-away place, call your insurance agent now and check it out.

Syl Arena’s “Speedliter’s Handbook” is a Must-Have

Last week I blogged about the Speedliter’s Checklist that accompanies Syl Arena’s new book, Speedliter’s Handbook: Learning to Craft Light with Canon Speedlites. Today the book arrived, and I’m even more impressed. No, I haven’t read the whole thing yet. In fact, I’ve only flipped through most of the pages, looking at the photos and diagrams, and read a few short chapters. But I can already tell you this is one of the most valuable books on photography on my shelf. Don’t think for a moment this is only for Canon shooters. I use Nikon gear including Nikon strobes. Very little of this book is specific to Canon Speedlites, and even those sections can easily be mapped into the Nikon equivalent. And don’t think this is only for large or small strobe users. Even if you only shoot in available light, there’s terrific material here.

I’ve written two books myself, so I have some idea of what it takes. Syl’s book is a monumental effort. It is packed (!) with photos and diagrams that get his points across. And they’re not those huge page-wasting images. This thing is dense! I’ve already discovered sections on equipment, accessories and techniques that made me say, “I wish I’d known that before now!” You will too.

Syl Arena’s Speedliter’s Checklist

Syl Arena’s new book, Speedliter’s Handbook: Learning to Craft Light with Canon Speedlites, currently has 45 ratings on and 100% of them are 5-star. I just ordered my copy and am really looking forward to it, even though the book focuses on Canon Speedlites and I use Nikon gear.

But even before his book arrives, I’m already impressed with Syl’s Six Point Checklist For Speedliting. There’s more helpful info on how to light with strobes in this one blog post than you’re likely to find anywhere else. I’ve already read it twice.